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Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City, and Liverpool are the favorite candidates for the Champions League quarter-finals this year
Between April 9 and 17, the quarterfinals of the present edition of the UEFA Champions League will be disputed. On this occasion, it opened the doors to two surprising but historic teams such as Porto and Ajax, but closed them to others that were expected to reach the third phase as Real Madrid, Atletico de Madrid, Bayern Munich, and PSG.
The eight who still dream of European glory are Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Ajax, and Porto. After the draw, which also determined how the subsequent semifinal crosses will be, it is easy to determine that there are four clear favorites: the 'Bianconeros', 'Catalans', 'Citizen' and 'Reds'.
In this regard, Infobae reported that UEFA ruled how the tables will be until the final in the Wanda Metropolitano de Madrid. The first semifinal will have the winners of the Tottenham-Manchester City and Ajax-Juventus series. That semifinal will be held in England and the return in Turin or in Amsterdam.
On the other side of the draw, the second semifinal will have the first leg at Old Trafford or Camp Nou as the case may be, and the return at Anfield or Dragao, to define the two finalists of the 2018-19 edition. The aforementioned Argentine media concludes that the expected duel between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would only take place in a hypothetical Madrid final, as well as the match between Pep Guardiola and his ex-runners from Barcelona.
Barcelona - Manchester United
Infobae remarks that Lionel Messi Barcelona will reissue the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011 in which they defeated the English team by 2-0 and 3-1 respectively. Both teams have changed a lot since then, but the Catalans are favorites because they have Messi, they have the advantage of playing at home, the irregular season of the 'Devil Reds', and the inexperience of their coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in this kind of matches. The first leg will be on Wednesday 10 April at Old Trafford and the return on the 16th of the same month at the Camp Nou.
If seen from the point of view of statistics or the 'cabals', there is a factor that favors the Blaugrana table: the last time the Premier League had four teams in the quarter, in the 2008/2009 edition, Barcelona won the title against his next opponent, United, in the final of Rome. Few expected United in this phase, due to their unstable campaign and because it seemed unlikely that they would beat PSG. Of course, Solskjaer has fond memories of the Barca stadium, in which he qualified as a player in 1999 against Bayern Munich with a goal of his.
For AS, the representative of Barcelona in the draw, Guillermo Amor, said: "I'm happy, we would have touched whoever had touched us, we have to face the tie with as much optimism as possible. In the end, we went to England, there were four Englishmen, 50% chance, the United is a great team. "
In turn, Andy Cole said as the United spokesman: "It does not matter to play the round away, but it will be a complicated tie because Barcelona is one of the great teams on the European scene, there are many teams that can win, this is soccer."
Manchester City - Tottenham
The website Portfolio claims that a duel between English, having four teams, was almost a fact and gave Guardiola's City, who will face the Tottenham of the Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, a team that it had easily beat the last three times he faced it. Regarding offensive power and particular series, the 'Citizens' are logical favorites, but beware!: the fact that Tottenham has seen them so many times, gives it some chance to surprise the team, especially if it capitalizes on City's defensive errors.
According to AS, Txiki Beriguistain, City's representative, said "It is a desire to play the Champions League final against Barcelona, we have high hopes of taking the title, but first we have to beat Tottenham, who will debut his stadium against us, and your having their people so close they will want to do it well "
Juventus - Ajax
Another final will be reissued, in this case, the one of 1996, with the duel between Ajax and Juventus, a true duel of styles, Portafolio mentions. It will be the speed and daring of the young Dutch against a slower team, but very disciplined and applied, which has the best historical goalscorer of the tournament in Cristiano Ronaldo, more experience, and high level in the air game.
"I am neither happy nor dissatisfied, but I think they will be two beautiful games, our rivals have deserved to be here, eliminating Real Madrid, which was not easy. We, however, after a not good match in Madrid, we showed the real Juve in Turin and there we knew we can do something big. We have to remain very attentive and enthusiastic," said Pavel Nedved, vice president of the 'Bianconero' team, on the team's website.
Liverpool - Porto
A priori, it looks like the most uneven series of all, with the 'Reds' as wide favorites, especially based on the last 16 of the previous edition, in which Liverpool dispatched with a comfortable 5-0 on the global in the eighth finals. The talent of their attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané and the experience of having played the final the previous year contribute even more to the favoritism of the English.
According to Fox Sports, coach Jürgen Klopp praised Porto and ruled out that it was "the best possible draw". "What can I say? We have already played against them and we had to be very good at eliminating them. It was good to win 5-0 in the first leg and to decide, but on the return they showed that that first game was an accident and that they had a lot of quality", said the German coach to the team's website.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "¿Por qué hay favoritos tan claros en los cuartos de final de la Champions League?"